May 2, 2020 - Axios Events

The New Workplace: The COVID-19 Impact

On Thursday morning Axios Co-founder & CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a virtual event to discuss leadership and the new normal of work with Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, and projections on the future of the workplace with Axios business reporter, Erica Pandey.

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield focused on the role that leaders serve while in a crisis as well as the need for businesses to remain adaptable in times of change.

  • On the job of leaders: "Leaders remind people what's important...the tactics might be new, but the big job is to remind people what's important. Remind people what the purpose is. Remind people what the objectives are. Remind people about roles and responsibilities. It's really getting people to believe in something."
  • On prioritizing agility: "I think we're in a more dynamic environment...[At Slack] we talk about how increasing technological change can cause changes in consumer behavior...The fundamental challenge to any organization like companies, governments, NGOs, academic institutions is the creation of a kind of agility that allows them to be responsive to these changing conditions."

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg discussed leadership, and how prioritizing employees' needs is vital to the staggered return to the workplace.

  • How Verizon has responded to the crisis: "Since the start of the pandemic, we decided to keep America connected. That means that any residential customer, or small and medium business, that have problems with paying due to COVID-19 are not being disconnected. We are not charging them late fees...we will continue to do that to the end of this quarter."
  • On whether people will return to office spaces by the end of the year: "Ultimately, we're going to have a staggered way of coming back to work...We as an employer will do everything to see that we are making the [environment] safe for our employees to come back to the office...I think in 2021, we're going to see a new normal."

Axios business reporter Erica Pandey unpacked the necessity of remote work in a pandemic and the potential changes it will yield as things gradually reopen.

  • On the rapid shift to remote work during the pandemic: "Remote work has been a buzzword for a really long time. But before the pandemic, only about 4% of Americans were working remotely full time. And now if you're looking at the top 20% of earners, which is most white-collar office jobs, it's closer to 80% per a new Brookings [Institution] report."
  • On its lasting impact on work-life: "This is going to be difficult for workers where parents are taking care of relatives at home. But for some people, this is going to be a welcome change they're going to want. It's gonna be pretty sticky when this is all over and people are going to go to their managers and say, you know, 'I really like that. Can we keep doing that more?'"

Thank you Slack for sponsoring this event.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
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  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
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